- Gabby as Lucinda Martin, the gifted budding alchemist who ran the tavern
- Tom as Nym the Mog, the curious investigator cat who shared Lucinda's love of chemistry
- Kurt as Ramon Sánchez de Castille, a recovering veteran of the Siege of Lapramada
- Gus as Pedro the Bruxi, an aspiring and helpful naval gunner rat who'd befriended Ramon on his return journey (Gus was unfortunately still being eaten by his children and unable to attend).
After much discussion about what they should do, it was decided that they would make the journey through the slums to the Castigardo, the huge and ominous prison that squatted upon the banks of the river near the heart of the city. Their hope lay in bribing their way inside so they could speak with Nym's Mog mentor Viski Padipurr, who had been incarcerated after the Machetza Gang had sold him out to the Crown authorities. Viski the one who had given Nym the Stone Book for safekeeping, and perhaps he could tell them more about where he had acquired it. Lucinda and Nym were both in favour of studying the book further, but Ramon was firmly in favour of destroying it. Eventually they persuaded him from doing so, and they emerged from the eyrie into a blistering sun. It was going to be a swelteringly hot day.
Luck was on their side as they approached the gatehouse: a young bravo had left his jacket undone in the heat, and as the three past by him, they could see a large machette hanging on the inside of his jacket. He was a Machetza, and they quickly realised that the gang they had tangled with over the book during the eclipse on the previous day (see here) must have been staking out the prison in the hope that Nym would eventually try to make contact with his imprisoned master. Warily the three pressed on to the gatehouse; the prison might afford them their only protection.
Luck was also on their side when they spoke to the guard. He was friendly and willing to help them after they slipped him a generous bribe, and he led them in through the gates. There was a small plaza between the gatehouse and the prison itself, and to one side lay a wharf where prisoners were brought straight from the courthouse down river. But in front of them loomed the thick and oppressive walls of black granite. The dark entrance was open, and distant screams all wailing came from within.
A second guard, much larger and crueler than the guard at the gate, took more bribing before he was willing to fetch Viski for them. They were led to a small stone room, barren save for a wooden table and benches, where they were to meet with Viski; Ramon did not wish to be trapped inside, and waited in the hallway.
Eventually Viski was brought before Nym and Lucinda, and he was a sorry sight. His once lustrous white gold fur was dank with blood from savage cuts, his claws removed, even his fangs snapped. It was clear Viski had suffered greatly, and that he was barely hanging on. It seemed that anger and a thirst for revenge had kept him alive, and coherent.
But he nearly failed: as he made his escape she transformed into something huge and monstrous that could have easily been the Hydiac — the monster that had been plaguing the city for the last two weeks. The agent's name was Zumi Juso, and if she was working for the Crown, then they too must be after the Stone Book, and that would explain the presence of the Leech-eyed Man and the Slavering Boxthing interrogating them at the Wandering Arms.
Viski begged them to do everything they could to free him, and Nym promised that he would, but their time was up. Nym slipped his mentor a bottle of wine just before the guards returned, and escorted him back to his cell. If they were to buy his freedom, it would cost them at least 500 crowns in bribes, money none of them had.
Yet they had more pressing problems: the Machetza waiting for them outside the gates of the Castigardo. But they were able to give them the slip by hailing a gondola to take them from the prison wharf, and were able to cross back into the network of canals and disappear before the four boatloads of machette-wielding thugs caught up with them.
The heat weighed heavy on the city, but the gang decided to press on with finding out more of the various plots afoot by heading to a friend of Ramon's — one Coravo la Brana, a fellow duelist he had met while at University, and had encountered shortly after Ramon had returned from the war.
As they made their way through the city they stopped tp refresh by a fountain nearest to the old walls, by the gate that separated the Northern Slums from the Old City. As they washed down Lucinda spotted a most unusual sight in the form a tall man in crimson robe and crimson wide-brim hat: an Inquisitor of Carcassara. Greatly feared, the crowd parted around him, before he headed further into the Northern Slums. Was he here for them?
They quickly made their way through the heart of the city to the university district where they called up the residence of Coravo La Brana. According to his Bruxi servant, Master La Brana would not return til nightfall, but had left instructions that should Ramon visit he should be welcomed into his home and all his needs catered for.
La Brana lived in a well appointed apartment near the University, and lived comfortably. They rested, away from the heat of the day in the cool rooms, but Lucinda asked the Bruxi servant to visit the nearby alchemist's shop and purchase some supplies. An hour later the servant returned with a hefty wooden box on a strapped frame: it was a portable alchemist's lab, which she would swiftly put to good use.
Her examination of the goods was cut short by the sound of a carriage arriving at speed down in the stables. It was La Brana, staggering up the stairs and clutching a bloodsoaked shirt, and pale from loss of blood. They quickly guided him to his bed, and Lucinda examined the wound: a deep cut on his flank that showed bone. But she had been well trained as a surgeon, and set about healing him. As she operated, she asked Ramon if her patient could be trusted. Ramon said yes: Coravo La Brana had hired both Ramon and his companion Pedro to watch over Lucinda and protect her from harm. Lucinda confronted him. Was La Brana responsible for the wanted posters of the woman named Valentina de Camondo — her true identity?
In his delirium La Brana was loose-tongued and revealed much that perhaps he should not. He was not responsible for them, but had been ordered by her father Lord Vincent de Camondo to watch over and protect her. Was her father responsible for the posters? Not at all, according to La Brana. Her father wanted nothing more than for his daughter to live the life she wanted, and if that meant living in hiding away from her family and its business, then all he wanted was her safety. So who was it that had ordered the wanted posters distributed around the city? La Brana did not know. He also, in his delirium, did not recognise Lucinda as the woman he was meant to protect.
The pain of the wound was beginning to take a hold, as was the alcohol he was using as a sedative, but La Brana was able to tell them where he had acquired the wound. In exchange for Ramon's protection of Lucinda, La Brana agreed that he would investigate the murder of Ramon's father, who had been killed the night Ramon had returned from the war while Ramon was visiting. Assassins had broken into the house, and attacked Ramon's father Lord Eduardo Perez de Castille believing he was alone: but Ramon witnessed the attack, and overheard the killers talking about a job for a "Señor Mendez" before making good his escape. La Brana had learned that someone was hoping to lay charges against Ramon for his father's death, and the two had agreed that Ramon should stay away from his father's home and that La Brana should investigate on his behalf. He was at the premises this very afternoon when he was attacked inside the house, but he was a gifted student of the dueling arts, and had managed to cut his way through the gang of bravos and return here. At that point La Brana pulled out a small book, sea-green in cover: it was a journal, and La Brana insisted that Ramon read it.
THE LAST JOURNAL OF LORD EDUARDO PEREZ DE CASTILLE
(written in second person cause it was originally for Ramon's player Kurt).
Your father's private journal is quite new, it only goes back several months of events and thoughts.
The journal is a sea-green hardbound book of considerable quality. The first entry is three months old.
In amongst the details of day to day mundanity of appointments and gatherings, it details the observations of a old, broken man, who seems very sad, and full of regrets that he could not live up to the greatness of his father and grandfather in managing the shipyards.
You knew your father was quite artistic, and there are sketches throughout of various shipyard scenes, portraits of people he met with, and Malazari street scenes.
It also contains sketches throughout of dragonflies, birds, and seedpods, as well as what appears to be the vivisection of a Tylluan Owl Man. Particular detail is paid to the musculature and bone structure of the wing.
There are also pictures of the windmills that line the canals north of the city and this winery hillsides around the old estate.
On the few occasions he mentions the Church it is in disparaging terms.
There are a number of meetings listed, with several businessmen at various places, including — now this is interesting — he talks about a meeting with Lord Vincent de Camondo, Lucinda's father. He speaks of him in very familiar terms, very informal, and he recounts telling de Camondo that "the project could not proceed without the intervention of the gods. What Vincent asks for is simply impossible. A lifetime of work and failure is all I have to show for it." There is then a short memo: "maybe the gods could help? Voroshka?"
He also details a number of meetings with your eldest brother at the estate, the sickly Comte Santiago Sebastien de Castille, and has brief summaries of their meetings, the last of which was several days before he died.
They seem to be working very hard towards ensuring that the family shipyards remain the the de Castille family, but as it was being run by your sister Condesa Mariana Sofia de la Sablonnière up til the day she died, there is an attempt being made to claim control of the shipyards by her husband Conde Louis Pierre Ancillon de la Sablonnière, who your father now holds in very low regard.
He also details his attempts to bring his remaining family back to Malazar to lay a counterclaims to the company, his frustrations in your youngest sister who has refused to co-operate, and his vexations in finding both you and your other brothers. He specifically mentions pulling strings with various friends in the military to have you and your brothers recalled from the Siege of Lapramada, several times over the last six months, and his puzzlement on why these requests have all failed. Your brothers had died prior to the first entry in this journal, but his grief over their deaths looms over everything, and it's clear he was desperately hoping that you would return to solve all the inheritance issues.
His last entry is one full of joy and honesty: he has learned that you are to be transferred back from Lapramada arriving the day after tomorrow, and his journal entry reads like he was taking notes for a speech that he was preparing for you, but never gave due to his murder. In summary:
"My son, I know that the weight of familial expectations has been heavy on the shoulders of all my children, and that the day to day cut and thrust of our business is far from romantic. It is no wonder that you and most of your siblings have fled to the far corners of the world. But I know of the unique burden that you have carried, that drove you away, and the
The last two sentences have been struck through.
Ramon acquired his father's Journal
Visiting Viski and the Castigardo: 150XP/3 = 50 each
Evading the Machetza Gang: 150XP/3 = 50 each
Rendevouz with Coravo La Blana: 150XP/3 = 50 each
Additional RP awards: 100 each
TOTAL XP = 250XP each